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A. Deirdre Robson

(b St Louis, MO, 1914; d St Louis, April 13, 1983).

American businessman and collector. May’s family wealth came from the May Department Stores. His collecting encompassed two separate strands: he was an enthusiastic collector of art from Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Central America, and he donated many such works to the St Louis Art Museum over several years. He also became well known as one of the earliest American collectors of German Expressionism, a style in which he developed an interest in the mid-1940s, when there were few dealers handling such work in the USA.

May’s collection eventually included more than 90 works. It comprised a selection by the artists of Die Brücke, such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, and Max Pechstein, and works by artists associated with Der Blaue Reiter, for example Alexei Jawlensky and Vasily Kandinsky. Approximately one half of the collection, however, consisted of works by Max Beckmann, whom May came to know when Beckmann was teaching in St Louis in the late 1940s; the works ranged from ...


Malcolm Gee

[Israel Ber]

(b Skole, Ukraine, March 2, 1887; d Rye, NY, April 28, 1961).

German dealer and publisher, active in the USA. Israel Ber Neumann, known as J. B. Neumann, opened his first print gallery in Berlin in 1911, exhibiting work by Edvard Munch and members of Brücke, Die. In 1913 he exhibited the complete prints of Munch in three shows and in 1915–16 was secretary to the Berlin Secession. After World War I Neumann, like other dealers in Expressionist art, initially met favourable conditions, with widespread demand for the work of such artists as Max Beckmann, who signed an exclusive contract with Neumann in 1921. This was a close but difficult relationship on both the personal and the commercial level. The deterioration of the German economic and political situation led Neumann to attempt to break into the American market, becoming permanently based in New York from 1923. He entrusted his Berlin gallery to Karl Nierendorf and the Munich one to Günther Franke. In ...